Staying on top of your needs, running regular accessibility scans and working with or training accessibility experts can ensure you deliver the best, and most compliant, user experience possible.
Following accessibility guidelines is tough, especially if a lawyer is breathing down your neck. But you can do it, and without sacrificing overall UX.
Businesses in many industries get more than their fair share of emails from legal types threatening lawsuits if the organization’s site or app doesn’t work well for those with disabilities. They typically cite lack of compliance with WCAG AA accessibility guidelines, the accepted standard.
Accessibility is a worthy goal and good business. Naturally, organizations want to avoid lawsuits and serve their customers. But improved accessibility can seem like a massive effort. How do you even begin?
Law firms use site scanners to flag non-accessible sites. More aggressive law firms may flag you for items that aren’t actually accessibility violations. Don’t just rely on a letter from an overzealous attorney. You’ll want to get your own scanner and check for yourself.
Find an accessibility scanner that will check your entire site, do a comprehensive job, and provide thorough reporting. At truematter we use Powermapper Accessibility Checker and Validator. It is excellent and the fees are modest.
You need someone with legitimate accessibility experience to interpret the gray areas in the WCAG guidelines. This is not an exact science. Larger banks with internal web teams may have an accessibility expert on staff. Regional banks tend to work with external web consultants of some kind.
Either way, the bulk of your accessibility effort will be interpreting your scanner’s findings and determining the best way to fix any issues. It will take user experience know-how to decide how to fix these problems without negatively impacting your site visitors. Experts can also help you document your unique solutions to gray-area problems for future reference.
Of course, the aforementioned law firms will likely suggest their partners as help for hire. You may or may not wish to put your trust in these recommendations.
Run an initial scan to assess the problem yourself. Get your accessibility expert to interpret it. Together, take stock of the situation. Yes, you may be looking at significant changes to your code and content, especially if your site is more than three years old. If you are in the middle of a redesign, stop and ensure you are building accessibility into your new site.
Your team can learn a great deal about accessibility for themselves. It will take some research and reading to understand how to interpret your scanner’s findings and the WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines. Assign a team member to become strongly familiar with accessibility. Have your newly minted guru teach the rest of the team at a lunch and learn, or during the course of fixes.
Keep in mind that if your accessibility point person is not a developer, you will still need an internal or external expert to help with code-based accessibility changes.
Run scans monthly and after every major site change. This way, you’ll stay on top of the situation.
A letter or suit from an aggressive law firm can be a day ruiner. Employ accessibility and UX experts, fix existing problems, watch for future issues, and document your solutions diligently. You’ll not only protect your legal backside, you’ll be serving your customers better than ever before.
We have created a comprehensive whitepaper on accessibility for developers that covers everything from laws to coding to testing.
Download the whitepaper: Accessibility for Developers
One easy way to make sure that you are creating accessible web apps is to start with components from the Kendo UI libraries. Our components are all WCAG complaint and give you great functionality from grids and charts to schedulers and pickers. Get a head start on your app's UI and a head start on accessibility compliance at the same time.
Learn more about: Kendo UI
As director of content strategy at user experience consulting firm truematter, Bailey oversees the content and writing initiatives for all UX projects. Her work is informed by researching and testing digital products with real users. She works with regional, national, and Fortune 500 clients on UX and content strategy projects, from definition through implementation.
You can find UX articles by Bailey at http://blog.truematter.com/.
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